Cinderella Deadlines: Reconsidering Timelines for Student Work

I have been experimenting with midnight deadlines lately, including midnight Sunday deadlines. Students who don’t want to work Sundays can of course get the work done earlier in the week. I also often have students start assignments during class time, ask them to submit what they have by the time class is over, and let them know if they want extra time, I’ll accept work until midnight without penalty.

Students usually seem relieved when I give them this extension on in-class work. Sometimes I’ll give them a three-part assignment. Today I asked students to submit Part 1 after a 20minute breakout session, Part 2 by the time class ended, and Part 3 by midnight. But I’m not going to bother policing three different deadlines. As long as all parts are in by midnight, that’s good enough for me.

Because the Sunday deadlines I set are for work students could submit during the previous week if they wanted to, I don’t share this author’s concern about “Cinderella deadlines,” but I really liked that the essay made me think more deliberately about deadlines.

This shift in deadline times and modalities can offer educators a chance to critically examine part of our classroom practice that we’ve long taken for granted, and in doing so, I suggest that as we implement a clear deadline policy, we should also consider the ways in which we can communicate deadlines to students, using meaningful rationales for why we’ve mandated them.  We can have students post or turn in their assignments at times that make sense for the nature of the assignment and our own schedules while at the same time showing respect for their time. Some examples include the following:

  • This assignment should be turned in no later than 2:00 p.m. on Thursday because I’m leaving for a conference and want to take the papers with me.
  • This assignment is due by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday because I need to check your understanding of the topic before we move on to the next unit that begins on Tuesday.
  • This assignment is due [at the official time break begins according to the campus calendar] so that I have time to read your papers over break.
  • This assignment is due at 1:00 on Wednesday because I’ve scheduled time to look at your work after my department meeting and respond to you by the end of the day.
  • This assignment is due at 5:00 p.m. on Friday [the end of the work day/week] because I am preparing you for the business world.

Source: Faculty Focus